Well finally after 7 years we finally have Superman gracing the screens of our local multiplex cinemas. I have seen the movie twice now and I am still trying to work out exactly how I feel about it. No doubt I will inevitably see it again at the cinema before it finishes its run. You may take that as a sign that I like, but to be honest I am just not sure. There are many aspects that I liked about the movie and there are several that I didn’t. So here in a nutshell is what I think of the film. It’s funny I started writing a review and after 7 pages I paused and thought this isn’t a review anymore. That piece is now going to be finished and will be a follow up article called “Dissecting The Man of Steel”. For now this is my short and sweet review.
So the overall premise is that an ancient and advanced civilisation is dying and there is no hope for salvation. Or is there? The planet’s leading scientist sends his infant son to a distant world (Earth) where he will have abilities far beyond those of mortal men. You all know the basic story of Superman’s origin. General Zod who was charged with the protection of the civilisation on Krypton has other ideas on how to preserve the Kryptonian race. As a result of a failed coup de tat he is banished from the doomed planet to the Phantom Zone along with his close military allies and are thus spared Krypton’s fate. This allows for the inevitable conflict between Superman, Zod and his cohorts later in the film.
This film is not really a comic book movie. Yes it is about the most recognised comic book character in history, but it is far from being a typical comic book movie of the likes of Iron Man or The Avengers. The movie is more a tale of an alien who is sent to Earth to grow and “become a beacon of hope for the people of Earth to strive towards”. Given that the 1978 Superman the Movie with the late Christopher Reeve in the title role is very much the comic book directly translated to the screen I think that the decision to go with this realistic approach was a good choice, even if it does have its issues. It was the right style for a reboot. Much like Burton’s 89 Batman with Keaton in the role was more like a comic book, Nolan’s real world take on Batman was what I feel lead to the successful reboot of the Batman franchise. I feel this is what is going to give Superman a new lease on life on the big screen.
The story treatment I thought was fine. Initially when I heard that Zod would be the villain and it was essentially a reboot I was a little dismayed by the news. Having seen the end product I thought that they did a reasonable job. That is to say they brought about a Superman for a newer, younger audience. The casting I feel was fantastic for the movie and I thought for the most part that the characterisations were great with the exception of Superman. I was content with the first 2 acts of the film, but I was ripped out of my seat when Superman killed Zod. I know people will argue that Superman has killed in the comics previously, but it just didn’t sit right with me, especially if he is supposed to be a symbol of hope. While I can understand and appreciate the build up to the point of Superman killing Zod, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I also have issues with aspects of this realistic take on Superman. If you really want to know the details you should keep an eye out for my future article. A friend said, “it’s just a movie”. “I should just sit back and enjoy the ride”. I believe movies are also meant to challenge us on some level either emotionally or mentally, especially if they are trying to pass themselves off as a realistic take on a fictional character.
As far as special effects go the film really sets the bar. Although I preferred the film in 2D as opposed to the up converted 3D. 3D up conversion just really sucks and doesn’t work because the shot selection and depth of field decisions when filming are completely different when you shoot in 3D. 3D is primarily marketed at kids and they are not really going to complain about it so I guess we just take it for what it is. It really is a non-stop adventure ride and Zack Snyder does not fail to deliver to the audience in that department. Yes there are issues with the film and some of the characterisations, but overall the film is enjoyable. It’s tough for someone like me to write a short review for a Superman film because the character is one of my passions and has been all my life. I liked the design of the film even though I think that the colours of the suit are a little to dark even for the colour palette for the film. The score for movie is fine if somewhat bland. I really enjoy the score as a standalone piece of music, but I don’t think that it is heroic enough or Superman enough. The thing about the Williams score for the 1978 film is that when you see Superman do heroic feats the music just makes them seem just that much more heroic and Super. I didn’t get that from this score unfortunately. As far as actors go I really think that the two fathers played by Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner steal the show. I loved their portrayals of their characters and while not exactly how I envision those characters, their performances do the characters, Synder’s and Goyer’s visions justice.
Man of Steel is the Superman that today’s audience needs. Today’s audience couldn’t sit patiently through the 1978 version of the film, but that is just a reflection of the times we live in. It is definitely a popcorn movie that is certainly not perfect and not on the same level as Iron Man or Avengers, however you can still have a really great time. It does fulfil its requirement of re-introducing the character and providing a springboard for future feature film instalments of the character and other DC properties. The Man of Steel is back!
Excellent visuals and epic battle scenes. It provides a Superman that is appealing for today’s generation.
Questionable characterisations and a lack of decent character development of the lead character.
Review written by Daniel McIntosh